Home Outdoors Florida Boy Survives Rattler Bite

Florida Boy Survives Rattler Bite

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Fewer than one in 37,500 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the U.S. each year, amounting to 7–8,000 snakebites. The University of Florida Department of Wildlife and Ecology estimates that a person is nine times more likely to get struck by lightning than to get bitten by a snake.

But as in the case of 11-year-old Benjamin Smith, who was bitten by a diamondback rattlesnake — one of the most venomous snakes in the country — two weeks ago in Florida, one of those rare snake bites can be very difficult to counteract. Benjamin required 66 vials of antivenin in the week following the bite, and eventually needed 80 vials to treat multiple relapses.

“Children bitten by small rattlesnakes are usually treated with 10-12 vials,” said Dr. Ralph Martello, a pediatric resident who treated Benjamin. “We’re continually watching him. He’s doing a lot better now.”

Doctors said Benjamin was lucky to have access to the antivenin right away, because it must be used within 12 hours of the bite.

The boy hopes to use the skin of the 5-foot-long rattlesnake to make a wallet.

Shannon Rikard is a freelance writer and photographer with a passion for conservation and wedding and portrait photography. The Archery Trade Association and National Wild Turkey Federation have published her work. A self-professed word geek, she enjoys Wheel of Fortune, crossword puzzles, and finding a dynamite synonym to illustrate any point. After starting her career in public relations with a national conservation organization, she ventured out on her own with Copper Door Studios.